Goodyear, 'Home,' and the Uncertain Future of Doing Business Jurisdiction
25 Pages Posted: 8 May 2012 Last revised: 1 Jun 2012
Date Written: May 7, 2012
The general jurisdiction decision Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, received relatively little attention when it was handed down on the final day of the Supreme Court’s October 2010 Term, but it will likely have far-reaching effects on both the doctrine and theory of general jurisdiction. Goodyear added what appears to be a significant new hurdle, requiring that the defendant corporation’s “affiliations” with the forum state be sufficient “to render [it] essentially at home in the forum State.” This standard undermines a great deal of lower court authority, and in particular seems inconsistent with the notion — widely accepted in lower court cases, though never endorsed by the Supreme Court — that a corporation is subject to general jurisdiction wherever it is “doing business.”
This article argues that Goodyear casts significant doubt on the ongoing validity of doing business jurisdiction, and in doing so goes a long way toward putting general jurisdiction, for the first time, on a solid theoretical footing. In particular, it contends that doing business jurisdiction, contrary to common assumptions, has no meaningful historical pedigree, and that it cannot be justified under any cogent jurisdictional theory. Because general jurisdiction by definition involves claims that are unrelated to the state, it can be justified only when the defendant is so closely tied to the state as to create legitimate authority over all of the defendant’s worldwide conduct. Such all-encompassing authority has traditionally been recognized only with respect to a state’s citizens or residents — an understanding that corresponds well with the Court’s new limitation of general jurisdiction to where the defendant is “at home.” Merely doing business in a state gives the state legitimate authority over the in-state conduct, but no legitimate interest in asserting authority over activities unrelated to the state. Such authority is, and should be, reserved for circumstances in which the forum state can fairly be regarded as the corporation’s home.
Keywords: Goodyear, Brown, personal jurisdiction, general jurisdiction, doing business, Ginsburg, due process
JEL Classification: K4, K40, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation